Al Horford gets 5-year extension
The All-Star center and the Hawks have reached terms on a five-year extension worth $60 million plus performance bonuses, mirroring the extension Joakim Noah signed with Chicago earlier this month.
The team announced the deal Monday, beating a deadline that prevented one of their stalwart players from becoming a restricted free agent next summer. Horford confirmed the terms in an e-mail to The Associated Press.
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"I wanted to get it done for security and just to focus on the team this year," Horford wrote while en route to Cleveland, where the Hawks (3-0) face the Cavaliers on Tuesday.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was the first to report the agreement Monday afternoon. The incentives, according to one source, can earn Horford an extra $8 million over the life of the contract if he hits them.
Horford finished second in the NBA rookie of the year voting to Kevin Durant. Last season, the Atlanta player averaged career highs in points (14.2) and rebounds (9.9) while becoming the first Hawks draft pick to make the All-Star Game since Kevin Willis in 1992. He finished eighth in the shooting percentage (.551) and also was among the top 10 in rebounding.
"From the moment he arrived in Atlanta, Al has been a large part of our success," general manager Rick Sund said in a statement. "The winning tradition he brought to the franchise as a rookie out of Florida has extended to three consecutive playoff seasons in a Hawks uniform. In addition, he was deservedly recognized as an All-Star last year, and we certainly look forward to his continued development as we move forward."
The new contract will take effect starting next season. The Hawks were eager to lock up another member of its core group. The team re-signed Joe Johnson over the summer to a maximum $124 million deal.
The signing of Horford turns the attention to guard Jamal Crawford, winner of last year's sixth man of the year award. He is eligible for free agency after the season.
With Monday's 11:59 p.m. ET deadline approaching, Horford becomes just the fourth player from the Class of 2007 to land an extension, joining Noah, Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, who received a five-year max extension worth $85 million in July, and Memphis' Mike Conley, who reached a five-year, $45 million extension on Monday night, according to sources. The deadline for extensions for 2007 first-rounders comes a day later than usual -- pushed to Monday because Halloween fell on a Sunday this year as opposed to a business day -- but it appears that a new record low for extensions is unavoidable unless an unexpected flurry of deals materialize in the next few hours.
The six first-rounders from the 2006 NBA draft who scored contract extensions before the Halloween deadline last October tied the previous low in the modern rookie scale era. But there's no mystery why extensions have been even harder to come by this fall.
Such extensions used to be a formality in many cases, especially for lottery picks. But teams are clearly reluctant to hand out deals without knowing more specifics about the NBA's new financial landscape to be hatched in the next collective bargaining agreement. The lukewarm overall regard for many of the players taken in the Durant Draft is another deterrent.
Class of '07 draftees who don't get an extension by Monday are headed for restricted free agency in the summer of 2011 -- assuming there is a summer of 2011 for free agents amid the strong threat of a lockout and that restricted free agency still exists in the next labor deal.
Marc Stein is a senior NBA writer for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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